The Abaco Islands, also known as the Abacos, are in the northern Bahamas, found approximately 290 kilometres east of southern Florida, USA, comprising the main islands Great and Little Abaco and numerous smaller barrier cays.
Spanning 320 kilometres, this crescent shaped chain of islands is one of the nation’s very best. The endless choice of coastlines, bays and coves, alongside panoramic backdrops and calm waters offer the perfect setting for boating and sailing enthusiasts, attracting huge numbers from around the world each year. In fact, the Abacos are regarded as one of the world’s finest sailing destinations, and the boating capital of the Bahamas. This all stems from the centuries-old tradition of boat building by hand, which still runs deep deeps, particularly on Man-O-War Cay with many locals still plying the trade.
Diving and snorkelling are, of course, hugely popular. The best dive sites can be found in Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, with its spectacular underwater caves and colourful coral reefs inhabited by turtles and eagle rays, which form part of the third largest barrier reef on the planet. For world class beaches, head to Treasure Cay for miles of unspoiled white sand, while the championship golf courses also provide a great source of relaxation.
The majority of locals live in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco, but the islands’ most celebrated landmark stands on Elbow Cay. The namesake lighthouse was built in 1862, reaching 89 feet, and is one of the very few manually operated systems in the world. Hope Town and New Plymouth are home to wonderful Colonial villages left behind by British Loyalists after the American Revolution in the 18th Century, which are another must see.
Ferries offer the best way to get around the Bahamas given the high-standard of ports and marinas, and sheer quantity of islands. From the capital, Nassau, on New Providence, ferries sail to Sandy Point a couple times a week, a route offering unforgettable views of the surrounding cays and beaches.